CircleUp has teamed up with e7 Sports to help sports teams use its RSVP-like service to get consensus. We've got a hands-on.
Josh LowensohnFormer Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
CircleUp, the RSVP-like service that launched at Demo 2007 a few months ago, has announced a partnership with e7 Sports, a management service for small sports teams. CircleUp will be added to the list of tools coaches can use to elicit responses from a bevy of parents and players about things such as uniform sizing and carpools. It's the mailing list re-done, this time with a centralized way to see other people's responses.
If you find yourself trudging through massive e-mail threads and having to hit reply-all, CircleUp would likely be more helpful. The service provides some simple tools to organize and syndicate responses to any question you create. You can choose how you want people to respond, with one of several templates such as yes or no, multiple choice, or fill-in. When you're done crafting your question, you can send it out to contacts by e-mail, instant messaging, and SMS.
What's great about the CircleUp is that answering a question doesn't require your recipients to register with the service. No matter what platform you've delivered the message, they just need to click on a link and fill in their answer. Once a recipient has answered, they can view how everyone else has responded. There's also the option to go back and change an initial answer if they see something that changes their mind.
CircleUp doubles as a business tool. You can export the results to an Excel spreadsheet, which is especially helpful if your question employed forms (useful for collecting people's personal information for a mailing sign-up or a directory). There also are some placeholder graphics for printing, e-mailing, and exporting to services like Google Calendar and Jotspot--things that will be added to CircleUp later down the line (the service is currently in alpha).
Group decision making can be really tough, especially coordinating groups more than four people. While it's easy if you're all in the same place and can talk about it, more than likely you're trading e-mails. Despite Google's Gmail handing the reply-all phenomenon really well with "conversations," it can still get a bit ridiculous. CircleUp is fairly easy to use (my Mom would have no problems), and the results can be taken offline using the Excel functionality.